PARIS – Tour de France stage winner Brice Feillu was on Wednesday one of three riders to join the Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project, the team being built around Andy Schleck’s bid for the race’s yellow jersey.
French climbing specialist Feillu, who was racing with Vacansoleil, made his name on the seventh stage of the 2009 Tour de France, where he triumphed on the climb to Andorra Arcalis.
He is expected to provide help in the mountains for Schleck and his older brother Frank, a fellow stage winner on the race.
“Brice has already proved himself to be an exceptional climber, and those types of riders are hard to find,” said the team’s manager Kim Andersen.
“I think we can help him become an even better racer for the big climbs in the Grand Tours, and he is strong enough to make many invaluable contributions to the team’s Grand Tour ambitions.”
Austrian Stefan Denifl and Australian Will Clarke join Feillu and a host of other top names at the team.
Clarke, who has no top level experience but is believed to be well-suited to the tough one-day classics, said his chance came after he met one of the team’s latest recruits, fellow Aussie Stuart O’Grady, at his European base in
“I had been racing in Belgium and then stayed with a friend in Monaco where I met Stuart O’Grady,” Clarke said.
“I think O’Grady really helped me and pushed for me to win a spot on the team. To work with people like him and the other guys in the squad will be a huge learning opportunity for me.”
The Luxembourg team has recently signed German trio Linus Gerdemann, Fabian Wegmann and Jens Voigt and Denmark’s Jakob Fuglsang.
Italian sprinter Daniele Bennati has also joined as well as O’Grady, and Swiss strongman Fabian Cancellara is also expected to sign up.
Andy Schleck is likely to start the 2011 Tour de France as one of the big favorites, having finished runner-up to Spaniard Alberto Contador in 2009 and 2010.
Contador is currently provisionally suspended and awaiting word on a possible sanction after testing positive, during the 2010 race, for trace amounts of the banned weight loss/muscle building drug clenbuterol.